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Unger considers run for Congress

May 04, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - State Sen. John Unger said this week that he has been encouraged by a number of people in state and national political circles to run for Congress next year, and the Berkeley County Democrat acknowledged he is weighing his options.

"I'm exploring it, but there's no exploratory committee," said Unger, who is serving his third four-year term in the West Virginia Legislature. "Right now, I'm being encouraged by a number of people - Democrats and Republicans."

When asked Wednesday whether he would run for the 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Republican Shelley Moore Capito, Unger said no decision had been made.

"I haven't filed anything or raised any money," Unger said.

Unger said he didn't have a timetable for making the decision. He said he was praying about it and asking other people for their insight.

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It is not clear whether Capito will seek a fifth term in Congress next year. Attempts to reach Capito spokesman Jordon Stoick in Washington, D.C., for comment about the congresswoman's intentions in the coming year were unsuccessful.

If Capito were to run, West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey said he believes Unger would have "geography going for him" in a potential race.

Based on Unger's margin of victory in a re-election bid last fall, Casey believes Unger could lose the vote in Kanawha County, where Capito resides, and still win the race.

"He looks equal to her in Kanawha, and stronger than her in Berkeley and Jefferson counties," Casey said.

State Sen. John Yoder, R-Jefferson, predicted his counterpart in the 16th Senatorial District would have an uphill battle against Capito, who he considers "unbeatable."

Up for re-election next year, Yoder previously has said he might leave the State Senate and run for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia or seek another office, possibly Circuit Court or county commission.

"I have to make a choice; he doesn't," Yoder said. Yoder doesn't plan to make that decision until December.

If Unger were elected to Congress, he would end a political drought for the two counties that spans more than 80 years, according to records maintained by West Virginia Senate Clerk Darrell E. Holmes.

In 1923, Republican George M. Bowers of Berkeley County left Congress after serving three consecutive two-year terms.

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